Wednesday, December 06, 2006
Hamilton: U.S. running out of time to save Iraq
Here are some excerpts from Anderson Cooper's interview with Lee Hamilton and James Baker, co-chairs of the Iraq Study Group:

COOPER: Secretary Baker, you called the situation in Iraq "grave and deteriorating." How much time do you think the U.S. has? How much of a window of opportunity is there?

BAKER: Well, I don't think you can measure it exactly. But we firmly believe in the assessment which we put in the report, which is a very tough assessment, very bleak assessment. But one thing I can tell you for sure -- that is all 10 members of our commission, Democrats and Republicans alike, think we ought to implement the recommendations of this report if there's any chance for success

COOPER: "Grave and deteriorating," though. Does that mean we are losing?

BAKER: Well, I don't think that you can say that we are losing or winning. I'll give you General Pace's definition: We're in the midst of a war, and if we don't adopt these recommendations, we run serious risk of losing.

COOPER: Do you (Hamilton) believe we are winning?

HAMILTON: I don't think we're losing; I don't think we're winning. I just think we're engaged right in the middle of war. I think there are a lot of steps we can take to enhance our prospects of winning and we'd better take them very soon. You ask how much time we've got. The answer is not very much. We don't measure this in terms of months. You measure it in terms of weeks and maybe days in which we have to act.
.........................................

COOPER: How much of this insurgency right now is motivated by al Qaeda? President Bush seemed to be indicating that al Qaeda is behind most of the violence. There are criminal gangs, there are, as you talk about in the report, death squads, nationalist insurgents....

HAMILTON: We think chief violence today is sectarian, not al Qaeda. Al Qaeda is present, al Qaeda is part of the violence, particularly in certain areas, but it is not the chief source of violence today. There are a number of different sources of violence, including just plain old criminality. Al Qaeda is a factor, but not the chief source. The American casualties are coming from the sectarian violence largely.

COOPER: Is it possible that getting U.S. troops out will lessen the violence? It will at least take away the motivation of nationalist insurgents.

BAKER: Many people have argued that to us. Many people in Iraq have made that case.

COOPER: Do you buy it?

BAKER: Yes, I think there's some validity to it. Absolutely. Then we're no longer seen to be the occupiers. We're still going to have a very robust force presence in Iraq and in the region for quite a number of years after this thing sorts itself out, whichever way it sorts itself out. We have to do that because we have vital national interests in that region. We have the problem of al Qaeda. We cannot leave the country to be a Taliban-like base for al Qaeda. So we're going to maintain. Even after we do what we said here, there's still going to be a lot of force protection combat capability, a lot of training, equipping and supporting, and there will be rapid reaction teams and special ops forces to chase al Qaeda.

COOPER: Based inside Iraq?

BAKER: Based inside Iraq.

HAMILTON: As you draw down American forces, at whatever rate or level, we have to acknowledge that you create some risks. When you embed American forces with Iraqi forces, that creates a situation of some risks. We want to minimize those risks as much as we possibly can.
..........................................

COOPER: You have both met with President Bush in the last couple of days, and his spokespeople have indicated, "Look, there are other groups looking into this. The Joint Chiefs of Staff is going to issue a report." He (Bush) says he's willing to listen and read the recommendations. What's your sense of his willingness to act on your recommendations?

HAMILTON: Look, the president is getting a lot of advice from people other than ourselves and he should be, and we don't object to that. We don't have all the truth here. There's one very, very big difference. The only source of bipartisan advice is from the Iraq Study Group. You've got a country today that is badly split, a government that is badly split, executive, legislative, split within administration, split all over the place on Capitol Hill.

If you're going to have an effective policy in this country in the next two years, we've got to come together. And the only way to come together is for the president and the leaders in the Congress to reach out to one another in bipartisan effort. What we did in the report was put together realizable goals -- goals that could be achieved given the political environment in Washington and political environment in Iraq. It's very easy to sit anywhere and shoot off a lot of recommendations to solve the problem of Iraq. They won't work unless you have bipartisan report. That's what our report brings to this whole effort -- a bipartisan solution.

BAKER: That, no other report is going to bring. And the American people desperately want this.
Posted By Barclay Palmer, CNN Senior Producer: 3:36 PM ET
  56 Comments
"If you're going to have an effective policy in this country in the next two years, we've got to come together. And the only way to come together is for the president and the leaders in the Congress to reach out to one another in bipartisan effort

This is what I hope the president hears. It really is the time to work together as a country. Anything else will bring failure and more unnecesary deaths.

Linda,
Boulder, Colorado
Posted By Anonymous Linda, Boulder, Colorado : 3:55 PM ET
I am reminded of the Julia Roberts-Dennis Qaid movie, "something to talk about" when Julia says to her dad something about learning to eat whatever Bull is served up with a knife and fork like a lady. Oh, well it was a good day to 'dump' Mary Cheney's pregnancy in the 'trash cycle'. This crepe de jour certainly does not measure up to those who have sacrificed. Could we have a committee to forcefully put these folks out to pasture?
Posted By Anonymous linda, bella vista,ar : 4:10 PM ET
I hope the American people learn a big lesson from this conflict. Not the leaders--the support among congress for this ill-conceived plan was overwhelming--but the people. It is time to be very careful about who we put in office and what they do there, for we've seen time and again that the best interests of the american public are often not a consideration, and the interests of other nations are beyond the ability of our politicians to fathom.
Posted By Anonymous John Keating, Alexandrit : 4:36 PM ET
Great interview Anderson! As usual you asked important questions. Can't wait to see the show tonight.
Posted By Anonymous Jess, Paris, KY : 4:37 PM ET
Hi Anderson and Barclay~
What a precarious debacle this war has turned into! It appears that neither the republicans or democrats have any good answers. The miscalculated decision to go to war in Iraq has had a tempestuous effect on all parties involved. I suspect that this fiasco of a war will continue for several more years until we have completely exhausted all resouuces and decide to just pull out anyway. I seriously doubt that this war will evolve or mutate into anything except Pandora's box. It is all so frustrating and complicated. Thanks for the interview exerpts. It makes me anxious for the '08 elections! I'll be watching 360 with interest tonight.~
Posted By Anonymous Betty Ann, Nacogdoches TX : 4:47 PM ET
I agree we need a bipartisan plan to have any hope to calm the storm. And that should apply to the Republicans, Democrats and all in between. We really haven't had a debate in this country. It's just been one very long shouting match, with each side encased in granite with their opinion. No give and take of ideas, no civil conversations, no respect for anyone who doesn't hold the same opinion as ours. Yes, I have some faith in a bipartisan approach. But, judging from the feedback already, I'm afraid Americans aren't ready to accept even a neutral assessment without all the anger and rage of a bull. Until that changes we have little hope, in my opinion, of ever calming Iraq or any issue we will face in the future. It's well past time to chisel away at the ideas of stone..so to speak. Our military needs and deserves that. I want to live in a country again where I don't need earplugs to drown out the hate. There's no politcal party superior to the other, there never was and never will be. On that note, I'll sign off, I can feel the anger brewing out there already. Take Care
Posted By Anonymous Lorie Ann, Buellton, Calif. : 4:50 PM ET
Both Hamilton and Baker made valid points about the ISG and their report. Hamilton talked about weeks or days the US has left to act, instead of months, realizing that action needs to be taken immediately if the US is looking to win in Iraq. Baker also stated that as the US gradually pulls more troops out of Iraq, we will be seen less as the occupiers, which will definitely reduce some of the tension. As a bipartisan group, and as a nation split between Democrats and Republicans, the ISG has the best solution as to how progress will be made in Iraq.
Posted By Anonymous liz Toledo, Ohio : 4:53 PM ET
"I don't think that you can say that we are losing or winning." Baker

You must be kidding me. This report is nothing more than more doublespeak on the part of the oligarchy. The war was lost long before it even started. We can't even begin to believe the casualty figures they report. God only knows how many Americans are really dead and wounded. You trashed an entire country at the cost of over a trillion dollars to the US taxpayer and you don't know that you lost yet? When will a real American leader appear to put an end to these imposters? Are there any real Americans left?
Posted By Anonymous Jim, Huntington, New York : 5:26 PM ET
We have to be careful about what we wish for. Whether you agree or not about invading Iraq, we are there now, and worrying about what Iran or Syria thinks is absurd. We need to do what is right and clean up the mess we made. If not, America will have created a terrorist state that has multiple dictators (influenced heavily by Ahmadinejad and Bin Laden) instead of the one that they had. If we step up our military strikes against the terrorists, we can win. The harder we strike the enemy, the faster we can win, set up the Iraqis for success, and bring our heroes home. Patton's strategies may not have been politically correct, but they brought victory, something that the ISG doesn't seem concerned about. We need leadership in this country that will actually work towards victory, and not worry about being reelected, or what polls show. If we set up a successful democracy and bring our troops home, public sentiment will be positive.
Posted By Anonymous Nestor, Austin, TX : 5:33 PM ET
Dear Barclay,

I remember a time when we were all quibbling over Bill Clinton's statement, "It depends on what the meaning of the word 'is' is."

Today I heard James Baker split hairs about the words victory and success. I wish someone would ask him what the difference is between the meanings of these two words. In my copy of "Roget's Thesaurus" they are synonymous. I guess it is just a matter of semantics.

I hope Anderson asked James Baker and Lee Hamilton what their definition of success in Iraq would be and how it would differ from victory. I agree that a bipartisan effort is imperative if we hope to bring a satisfactory conclusion to the war in Iraq; however, both sides must admit that mistakes have been made and address them accordingly.

If we cannot work together towards an end to the war in Iraq, how can we have any hope of achieving diplomatic success in the Middle East?

Jo Ann
Posted By Anonymous Jo Ann Matese, North Royalton, Ohio : 5:48 PM ET
I'm still waiting for the voice in this fire storm to stand up for rebuilding the US Military, the Reserve and the National Guard. Oh, you can throw in the Coast Guard and Border Patrol into the needy group.
Posted By Anonymous linda, bella vista,ar : 5:48 PM ET
What the American people desperately want is a plan of action! Although I appreciate all of the hard work put into the Iraq report and found it a very interesting read, it is way too high level, does not really give us any details. I've been intrigued with why Iraq can't secure their own country. It is interesting that the report indicates that the issues surrounding this center around lack of leadership and equipment. Although you can easily provide equipment, you can't on the other hand just turn on a switch and expect everyone to just wake up a leader. My guess is we will be in Iraq for awhile.
Posted By Anonymous Jolene, St. Joseph, MI : 6:09 PM ET
I am actually heartened by the Study - this is truly an American event. Our current policies had pushed the entire Middle East closer to violence and instability. The world is marching frighteningly closer to nuclear war or the next Crusade. Time to work together to change the course.
Posted By Anonymous Karen, Los Altos, CA : 6:28 PM ET
I'm amazed that there are people who are so clueless as to think we should conduct the war in Iraq as if we were fighting Hitler in WWII. In any case, the value in the ISG report -- if it is to have value -- will not be in its findings, but in its ability to get President Bush to wake up, get a clue, and change what we're doing. I haven't heard any surprises from the report so far, but unless and until President Bush is willing to admit that the course of action to which he has been so steadfastly committed is not a viable strategy for success he's not going to change anything. Hopefully now that everyone around him is willing to speak out and say that his approach isn't working he'll finally get the message. We never should have gone over there and we've handled it ineptly ever since we did. As for what Patton would do in this situation, I'm pretty sure he wouldn't pursue the same unsuccessful plan for three years running.
Posted By Anonymous Laurence Harris, Chapel Hill, NC : 6:30 PM ET
I think the United States government should clearly define what is regarded as a "success" in Iraq's story. Is it the fall of Saddam Hussein's authority? Is it the so-called stability in the region of Middle East or the victory of the American army over Hussein's military forces? How can we discuss about success of failure in the Iraq War if we don't have a definition of those terms. I think that, indeed, American people really want a U.S. plan of action for Iraq. They should want it. However, I am not sure if their government is in a position to create a credible one.

NIKOLAOS MOTTAS, PARIS FRANCE
Posted By Anonymous Nikolaos Mottas, Paris, France : 6:47 PM ET
Anderson - you're not one to shy away from the tough questions. So did you ask Mr. Baker if he believes his law firm's representation of the Govt of Saudi Arabia could be a conflict of interest in his keen desire for the US to withdraw troops from Iraq?
Posted By Anonymous Steve - Peoria IL : 6:48 PM ET
There was a documentary of why the British lost the American Revolutionary War. They eventually ran out of money, man power and equipment. With expenditures of over $300 billion, troops who have already been redeployed at least 2 or 3 times, equipment that needs repairs but no one is here to do it or there is no budget to do it - looks like we're well on our way repeating history.
Posted By Anonymous M. Wong, Los Angeles, CA : 7:06 PM ET
The no-brainer here is that recommendations from this report will only be effective if they are followed and can withstand the ever-changing instability in Iraq. The bottom line is this. How many more US soldiers have to die while reports get written and hashed to death in DC, Iraq sits in shambles while its innocent citizens suffer for those in the midst of a civil war some claim doesn't exist, and our president stays in his own delusion that things are going well over there (unless we all missed a memo somewhere)? I only hope those in power can get over their differences and figure out how to honor the promises to the Iraqi people while keeping our interests secure whether they use information in this report or not. It's already too late for the thousands of lives lost in this conflict. At a minimum, the US government should try to salvage this debacle to honor those lost.
Posted By Anonymous TA Cheramie, Berwick, LA : 7:41 PM ET
To Nestor -

You must be joking about striking harder so that we can win over the terrorists. This is not World War II and the tactics that might have worked against the Nazis are going to be woefully inadequate here. This is a new and deadly enemy. We are not fighting a nation, we are fighting a movement of terrorists trained to commit heinous acts that we could not even have imagined fifty to sixty years ago. Suicide bombings, IED's maiming and killing our troops, beheadings. At least we knew who we were fighting in the past. These insurgents have the capability to morph into more deadly groups attacking at any place, any time. Our troops are like sitting ducks. The more appropriate and applicable comparison is with the Vietnam war. We invaded a country without understanding what guerrilla warfare meant. We underestimated the North Vietnamese commitment to defend their homeland. All of our technical prowess and might proved futile in the end. We left years after we should have and after far too many American soldiers died. Didn't we learn our lesson then? Or are we merely reliving the mistakes of the past.

Even the great Patton could not have won this war. My father marched with him and would have gladly followed him to hell and back. But today he would be doomed to failure. This is an enemy that will go to any lengths and sacrifice thousands. We need a constructive, responsible and reasonable plan to get our troops out of this mess and we need it soon. We can't live in denial any longer. There is nothing to win, only more unnecessary bloodshed and millions of precious dollars wasted for nothing. This is the time for leaders who are not afraid to stand up and speak out to put an end to this madness that the Bush administration created, based on lies and misrepresentation to the American people.
Posted By Anonymous Mindy Chatsworth, Ca. : 7:43 PM ET
I believe it is absolutely critical that our country begin to work together. This applies to both leaders and us common folk with no power aside from our voices. I do have to say, however, that most of the hatred and partisanship evident today has been caused by right wing conservatives who shut out democrats from policy meetings and who deliver hate-filled speech on the talk radio stations. To say "we all need to get along" would probably interpretted as "hippie liberal" talk by right-wingers, but hey, goodness will hopefully prevail in the end...if we want to save our once wonderful country that most of the world used to respect and admire. Call me crazy.
Posted By Anonymous Bob Goldie, San Francisco, CA : 7:46 PM ET
I am so glad, my lovely mother let me play sports as a child. Sports has taught me many valued lessons in life. We must play as a team and when the game is over win or lose its over. Its time to shake hands with those in Iraq and move the soldiers out. I will not comment on who won or lost. The time has run out and the war is over!
Posted By Anonymous Claude Calgary AB Canada : 7:57 PM ET
This is a no-brainer...if no one pays attention to this report, what was the point? I hope they do whatever it takes to honor our promise to Iraq while keeping our interests safe. I hope they can get over themselves in DC long enough for us to be successful. I hope they can come up with something from all of this that works and Bush will actually get out of his delusions long enough to listen and follow through. All the ink and paper that created this are too late for the thousands that died already in this war. When are those in charge of this debacle going to stop babbling (as I'm doing now) and actually roll up their sleeves and work to make change happen so we can get out of Iraq and let them run their own country?
Posted By Anonymous TA Cheramie, Berwick, LA : 8:00 PM ET
"If we step up our military strikes against the terrorists, we can win. The harder we strike the enemy, the faster we can win, set up the Iraqis for success, and bring our heroes home. Patton's strategies may not have been politically correct, but they brought victory, something that the ISG doesn't seem concerned about. We need leadership in this country that will actually work towards victory, and not worry about being reelected, or what polls show. If we set up a successful democracy and bring our troops home, public sentiment will be positive."

That sounds like something straight out of a George Bush speech. It is that attitude that got us into this and "staying the course" will never get us out of it. What you are suggesting is just that but with more troops. I spent so many years away from my family in a desert fighting a lost cause. We dont have the troops. Why would you advocate sending more and more rotations over there to die needlessly? This is NOT the same war Patton fought. Do you have any IDEA what the divorce rate is for the soldiers that do manage to make it back from that hellhole in one piece? The destruction done to the families? The children forced to grow up fatherless? All because of people who think the solution it throwing more American lives to waste over a war for oil? Please tell me you are not serious!!! WAKE UP!!
Posted By Anonymous nathan, junction city ks : 8:11 PM ET
Wow, what took the Bush Administration to finally come to their senses?

Oh, it was called THE MID-TERM ELECTIONS!

Face it, if the Republicans were still in charge of our Government, we'd still be "Stay'en the Course" in Iraq.

The only reason were having this "Iraq Study Group" is because Bush is just trying to save himself and his administration from Impeachment.
Posted By Anonymous Chris, Katy, TX : 10:39 PM ET
Watching the proceedings from Washington this afternoon, I was in awe of the wisdom and intellect of the assembled panel...Oh if men such as these were given as loud a voice as Mr Rumsfeld- who obviously lacked the foresight of these statesmen?
Posted By Anonymous Mike Pinto-Fort Mill, SC : 10:49 PM ET
I whole-heartedly agree with Claude in Canada. It is time to shake hands with those in Iraq & move the soldiers out. Time HAS run out & the war is over. My son is in the Army stationed in Ramadi,Al Anbar province, and everytime I hear a soldier has been killed I hold my breath & pray so you can imagine how much praying I've been doing this last year. Please bring our troops home. They deserve better than what they're getting.
Posted By Anonymous Debbie - Raleigh, NC : 10:52 PM ET
I agree with all the comments made by David Gergen about the assessments made by the bi-partisan report on Iraq. The report could not have surfaced at a better time as we lost ten soldiers today which ten American families will now have to get the most unfortunate news possible. The country can only hope that the president will listen to the advice given and that the Democrats will not "use it as a political platform" as correctly stated by Anderson Cooper.
Posted By Anonymous Jane Doe, Ocala FL : 11:09 PM ET
Alot of "talk", but not much "do" as seems to be the problem of Washington, DC. Another report to boast about and then file. Meanwhile, people keep dying in Iraq. What good do reports do for them?

I look forward to positive "action" and less rhetoric. Come on DC, roll up your sleeves and get to work. Make a difference...talking is not going to cut it.
Posted By Anonymous Karen, Seattle, Washington : 11:44 PM ET
The damage is done, sorry to break the news to everyone. I don't see a solution to the problem any time soon, and this conflict which now includes the United States will never come to an end. I don't think anyone knows a solution, and selfish leaders and governments are not the answer.
Posted By Anonymous Safe, jacksonville, Florida : 11:45 PM ET
I hope we all know better then this rhetoric about winning wars or completing anything or Iraqi freedom. These are crazy people. They will be crazy people a year from now, two years from now and ten years from now, so to tell me they won't fight with each other and us if we go an inch this way or that way is utter nonsense . The dude in the Whitehouse knows it too, he just wants his friends with the no-bid contracts to be able to stay there as long as possible as they harvest their profits from this tragedy.
Posted By Anonymous Lonnie Persk, Pembroke Pines, FL : 11:46 PM ET
I sincerely hope that the President does not adopt The Iraqi Study Group's irrational
conclusions that are tantamount to Surrender. To the contrary, we need to bolster the Bush Doctrine and now...

We cannot and will not simply guarantee victory in Iraq by force alone, but the United States
should and must assist the spreading of liberty as we can by rooting out terrorists
and those who perpetuate terror as we find them � wherever they may choose to hide or
train or seek refuge... including Iran & Syria. We won the ground war in Iraq in mere days, but
then we sought out a strategy for peace that leaned too far toward reconciliation with dangerous players.
We allowed militia's to fester and grow.

The Main Mistake was not taking out the Mahti Army and Al Sadr over 2 years ago.


And -- If we go back to late Sept. 2001, and if we all re-read the President's words in his statment to
Congress, he was 100% right then. But - with all due respect - the problem is that we have not lived
up to those words 100%. We quite simply have not held Syria and Iran accountable for their actions and deeds.
We should have already and must now.

The President recognized the challenge and obstacles before us exactly as they emerged
and set forth on a direct and irreversible path to resolve these security threats to America
clearly and confidently. He must not back-track now. The President instead needs to push harder
to eliminate those who would do us harm, would do Israel harm and are do harming in Iraq now.
If he does so, I am confident that the long-term results will speak for themselves and that history
will judge the President very favorably indeed for it.

The United States must now remain as committed to winning the peace as we were to winning the war.
The world is watching. If you look at the Iraqi Study Group's report, "Winning" and "Victory" are not even
discussed or mentioned. They only speak of retreat and surrender, even if they characterize it differently.

If we achieve in our goal to transform nations of tyranny and terror to nations of freedom
and democracy, our collective security will be augmented for years to come. Let the Muslim
nations see the reality of an emerging democracy in Iraq that is Iraqi born
and led. Let Iraq be an example of hope to Muslims worldwide. Our reward will ultimately be
greater peace and stability in a world with such examples of liberty and freedom. But we must
actually WIN and that requires conquering those who kill and maim for their own twisted purposes.

And that includes the evil forces within Iran and Syria. Brand new Iranian weapons are now being found
in the hands if Iraqi insurgents as transferred directly from the factories in Iran. They do not even
pretend to channel them through the "black market" any more. There is direct evidence of Iran
supporting Iraqi insurgents... terrorists who kill Americans and Iraqi's alike.

Today, we face a crisis that has tested and will continue to test our truest convictions.
Will we choose to meet the challenge and face our declared enemies where they meet,
where they gather and where they have chosen to engage us abroad? Or will we retreat
from this struggle and refrain from facing the responsibilities that this moment in our
nation's history demands?

It shall not be easy to overcome a committed enemy that has sworn to die in pursuit of
their villainous aims at destroying the United States and Western democracies. America
though cannot simply shy away from this confrontation or choose an isolationist path
toward security. Our enemy will not tire or be altered by diplomacy or reason. Our
enemy must be overcome and vanquished. We must defeat them where we find them and
not allow them to plot or pursue their terrorist ambitions.

Nothing less than Liberty itself hinges on our decision. We must commit all of the forces
necessary to conquer these terrorists because the stakes are far too great to even
contemplate the prospect of inaction. Islamic extremists have twisted a noble religion in
an effort to enforce, through terror, their own narrow religious doctrines and fascist
political aspirations.

The Unites States must be fully committed to confronting the challenge exactly as it has
emerged. The terrorists have signaled their intentions very specifically, and we must take
them at their word and respond accordingly. The United States should be resolute and
never cower from the mission. If our mission in Iraq to defend and bolster an emerging
democracy is lost or if we neglect to follow through as required, the entire region will be
lost to Islamic fascism, and we will have sacrificed our greatest opportunity to defeat a
major terrorist enclave and also assist in the spreading of Liberty to the greater Middle East.

If there must be conflict with those who have declared war against us, let it be abroad
where we strive to meet the challenge and defeat our enemies. Let it be our American
generation that faces this critical challenge and brings lasting security to our citizens. We
did not seek out this conflict, but we cannot turn away or retreat from our responsibilities
either.

There are those among us, while they may be committed patriots, who still do not
understand the full extent of the evil that threatens us. I now count the 10 members of
The Iraqi Study Group among those.

By Dunkirk, WWII was very hard as well. But had we retreated then, we'd all live in a Nazi
world today. And this new enemy is even worse than Hitler. They, unlike Hitler, are both
suicidal and apopalyptic.

While many would have us retreat to our own shores and prepare here for the battles to come
and hope that our enemies will be content with foreign prizes of conquest, that is a fool's errand and
irrational thinking. We do not face an enemy who will ever be contented or satisfied with simple
pursuits on distant battlefields. Our enemies have attacked us here and plot to do so again.
The terrorists are not rational and have no desire for justice or righteousness. They seek to
conquer and convert their subjects to their brand of Islam by force.

When faced with such an enemy who's sole aim is our conquest, we have no other path
open to us but conquest ourselves. We dare not risk giving such an enemy even a partial
victory. We must win every battle and vanquish such an enemy entirely.

The President must do what it takes to secure actual Victory in Iraq -- unmistakable victory.

Future American generations will curse our collective cowardice if we finally opt to
retreat back toward isolationism and a defensive posture at a time when a little effort
might have saved our nation from the future world wherein terrorism has taken hold and
Islamic fascism has emerged from a small threat to a global calamity. Why should we
inadvertently suffer the misery of devils due to a blind faith that our good will and good
deeds and a change in policy will save us when our enemies themselves have trumpeted
their intentions loud and clear?

America cannot simply flee from terror. It shall follow us home. Language and reason
will not deter the evil which threatens us. Ultimately, the aim of these Islamic extremist
is not just to terrify us. They actually want to conquer and subjugate the entire Western
world. They want to compel a conversion to Islam by force and then to subjugate the
world's populace under a Taliban-like tyranny.

I am thankful that our current President is a man of God and that he is not himself afraid
to act. He knows and understands our situation well, and can see the way out of it. But
time has made many Americans weary, and now we face a challenge in confidence.
I am hopeful that reason will sway the majority of Americans toward a new understanding.

But if not - I pray that the President will have the perseverance and fortitude to continue the
march toward victory assured that we are on the just and correct path. In fact, it is time to
step up the battle, taking the fight directly to our enemies -- the Mahti Army and those who
are backing them. Even if we do not directly engage Syria and Iran now, we must engage any
of them who cross the Iraqi border or work to support any forces within Iraq. Seal that border
and take the fight directly to any and all militias within Iraq.

Best wishes & God Bless -- Kevin Ward
Posted By Anonymous Kevin Ward, Tampa, FL : 11:46 PM ET
This Report is a massive indictment of the misrebale failure of Bush's Iraq policy and ultimately of his presidency. What Bush has wrought becuase of his immoral war in terms of the thousands of Americans now lying in their graves as well as untold tens of thousands of Iraqis will haunt him until he draws his last breath upon this earth.
Posted By Anonymous Brount, Toronto, Canada : 11:49 PM ET
The commission's suggestion for a diplomatic solution was first presented by Sen. Joe Biden nearly a year ago. He has repeatedly stated that in order to have stability in the region, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict needed to be resolved. The commission should thank Sen. Biden for being the first to recognize this was the only viable solution!
Posted By Anonymous Gahllin, Sedona, AZ : 11:52 PM ET
It is scary to realise that the US is in Iraq based on inaccurate information regarding WMD.
When in the hole you have two choices.
A)Keep digging.
OR
B)Get the hell out of the hole.
Posted By Anonymous Anne, Denver, Colorado : 11:59 PM ET
I am very encouraged by the report, because the credibility of its authors demands that it not be ignored. The members of the ISG are being careful about the tenor of their rhetoric, recognizing that being too loud in criticism of Mr. Bush will likely only cause him to dig in. This report can be the "new information" that will allow Mr. Bush to change course without appearing to simply give in to public opinion. I am especially hopeful that the administration will engage with the regional and international community in search for diplomatic solutions. If we have learned anything, it is that we cannot use purely military measures against an enemy that has an inexhaustible supply of fanatical manpower and that is indistinguishable from the civilian population. For the sake of the young Americans and innocent Iraqis that are dying there every day, I hold the fervent hope that Mr. Bush will suck up his pride and make a dramatic change of course in Iraq.
Posted By Anonymous John S., Minnetonka, MN : 12:10 AM ET
We in the USA suffer from the King George III syndrome: Cast off the tyrannical leaders, then citizens and leaders alike will band together to bring about that freedom a tyrant's presence precluded. It happened in America: surely it will happen elsewhere. I'm sorry to inform people that not everyone in the world places the same value on freedom that we in America do. In some parts of the world the Middle East being no exception. Honor, Order and tribal Loyalties mean more than the rights of the individual. We are bound to be disappointed when newly liberated people turn to tyrants for order, or terrorists who fight for the honor of their country or religion. Or to tribal warlords whose winner take all mentality is corrosive to pluralism and tolerance that are supposed to be the very hallmarks of democracy. We should not be trying to make everyone in the world be like us, Instead of doing as Woodrow Wilson once suggested and makes foreigners elect those America deems good men, which would entail founding and policing an empire as brutal as the romans. America should be content to champion democracy by the countenance of her own voice and the benignant sympathy of her own example. To force on people a system of government and society that there is little indication that they want and every indication that they will fight is nonsensical and ultimately futile. I hope we can end the nightmare in iraq, but it would be best if they came up with there own solution to the problem, even if it is not one that we approve of. Maybe we would learn to be more careful in the next military endeavor we undertake.
Posted By Anonymous Scott, Lebanon Pennsylvania : 12:13 AM ET
What exactly is the definition of success? Over the past three and a half years this definition has certainly changed. The US went into Iraq with one definition and now it seems that there is discussion of a very different version of success. If I could, I would ask both Mr. Bush and the co-chairs of the ISG report what they feel the word success means now. It has been stated that the ISG does not have the word "victory", but it does comment on "success in Iraq". Perhaps part of the problem is that each side, Democrat and Republican, have a different opinion on what the definition should be.
Posted By Anonymous Victoria, White Rock, BC : 12:21 AM ET
What was that guys name that said we were winning in Iraq? Bartlett?

I'm wondering how he said that with a straight face! I must be missing something because it sure looks like we are suffering terribly. Here is a thought: maybe we should place him with our troops for a few weeks and see if he has a change of heart. Hmmm, maybe I better go to bed now... That was a great show tonight Anderson. Thanks.
Posted By Anonymous Tracey Bethlehem, PA : 12:23 AM ET
Well, I'd tell you what I thought about Dan Bartlett's comments about us winning the war, but you wouldn't be able to print it.

He's a moron! Truly!
Posted By Anonymous Sheryn R, Pohatcong, NJ : 12:28 AM ET
This report is bogus...we all know what is going on in Iraq and has been going on in Iraq. Why didn't these politicans (current administration) listen to the American people to begin with? "We think chief violence today is sectarian, not al Qaeda"...DO YOU THINK? Hello.....can you say religious war? These people are going to have their religious war if Americans are present or not....it is happening NOW! Hard for me to believe that anyone in their right mind would get that involved in religion (brainwashing perhaps?) that they would kill each other....seems to be anti-religious to me! I totally disagree with Baker regarding our troops as NOT being considered the occupiers as far as the Iraq people are concerned. The Iraq people want us out of there and I personally want our troops home ASAP. Does it really matter who won or lost? This was an illegal war to begin with and we as Americans had no right to invade their country based on lies. We will not win this war....this war will continue on for generations, as it always has...no end in site. Hope I did not offend anyone, just my opinion.
Posted By Anonymous Moe, Liverpool NY : 12:55 AM ET
To all who want to attack my posting.

I was in Iraq in 2003. The difference between then and now is that we were on the offensive then and now we are not. Sec. Rumsfeld should have been fired years ago for not stepping up the pressure on the terrorists. The only way to win a war on foreign soil is to break the will of the people to resist. That's why the North won the civil war, that's why the allies won WWII. The Civil War was fought one way, the war in Europe was fought another way and the war in the Pacific yet another. Depending on the circumstances, war must be fought with different and evolving strategies. Is a new strategy needed in Iraq? Absolutely. A new strategy was needed at least two years ago. But if we withdraw now, we will light the fire that will probably start WWIII with our enemies emboldened. Iran, N. Korea, Syria, Venezuela, China, and Russia to name a few countries are beginning to form alliances. Let's also not forget groups like Al Qaeda, Hamas, and Hezbollah, who would be more than willing to kill Americans at home or abroad. If we can not remember 1938, we will be doomed to repeat our former mistakes.

As a former soldier, I do know the stress that the military puts on families. I do know that it can be hard to be sent to multiple deployments. I also was not naive when I joined the military, and I always knew that sometimes you have to go to war, and that in war, people are wounded and some are killed. It is a sad fact that I wish could be changed, but unfortunately, holding hands and singing Cumbaya at the U.N. doesn't seem to be working, and our enemies say that we must convert to Islam or have our throats sliced open with a rusty machete.

I do not like war, in fact I hate war. But you have to agree that at times, war is necessary. If America doesn't wake up soon enough, we won't be complaining about why we spent so much money in Iraq or the mismangement of Katrina, we will be complaining (and rightly so) about why our government did not stop a U.S. city from being nuked. As a country, we need to stop acting like Chamberlain, and start acting like Churchill.
Posted By Anonymous Nestor, Austin, TX : 1:32 AM ET
War is hell! But if you are going to fight one you better fight it to win! Remember that lesson from Viet Nam? I guess are leaders haven't. You have a country that does not want us there telling our U.S. army what they can and can not do. If you sleep with the Devil you are the Devil. In other words if an insurgent shoots at an American unit then runs to a home filled with civilians then you just need to destroy the home and kill all inside. I know this sounds very cruel but remember War is hell! I support our troops is becoming just a phrase to most Americans. If they really cared they would want are army to dictate to the Iraqies what is going to happen and when wether they like it or not! We are now caught up in a politically correct war and are troops are suffering because of it. Before we ever fight a war are leaders must think about the consequences of that war. We should never take such a drastic step without seeking to win first then going to war. One last statement " A people that give up their freedoms to gain security deserve neither and will lose both"
Posted By Anonymous Dana, Las Vegas, Nevada : 2:00 AM ET
Why is it that everything Cooper says about this subject is SO VERY NEGATIVE? When you ask any soldier involved in Iraq or Afghanistan, they believe they are making progress, and they can list all the things they are doing. But when Cooper, or any of his CNN/BBC/NBC/CBS collegues talk about Iraq, it's an unqualified disaster.
Posted By Anonymous Brian, Los Angeles, CA : 3:03 AM ET
Regarding the Iraq Study Group----I don't believe Bush will act upon their
recommendations. He will not diplomat-
ically deal with Iran, he has already
said so and has refused to answer corr-
espondence.

We are stuck with a failed policy and
a failed President.

Richard N.Doredant
Guntown, MS 38849
Posted By Anonymous Richard N.Doredant : 5:58 AM ET
As Mr.Hamilton says, Americans are badly split people today. I'd say as gravely split as Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq.

The big question remains - where the fix is coming from? Who, if any, has the right glue??

Time for reflection, contemplation, compromise, human decency - not revenge, hurt pride, ego repair, or political manipulation of one of the goofiest American blunders in recent history!!
Posted By Anonymous Natasha , Toronto, Canada : 6:03 AM ET
James Baker's comments about U.S. troop levels make no sense to me. On the one hand he agrees that getting U.S. troops out may lessen the violence because the U.S. would no longer be seen as occupiers. Yet he says we must have a "very robust force presence" there for "quite a number of years", basically to battle al Qaeda. Won't the United States be seen as occupiers for years to come? Won't there be violence for years to come?
Posted By Anonymous Joyce West, Lexington, Ky. : 9:46 AM ET
I am just hoping we don't have another Vietnam, a country our President is now trying to outsource more jobs to. Seems ironic somehow. Perhaps we can find a way to get out soon. There is a completely different way of thinking in the middle East than we are used to dealing with. It is a complex culture and it has to be understood to be able to deal fairly and in a unified way for peace. Forget about politics, if that is possible, and let's just accomplish whatever we can for the people whose lives we have imperiled in Iraq and in our armed forces.
Posted By Anonymous Flo, Boca Raton, Florida : 10:26 AM ET
Anderson,

I found the responses to your questions during the interview with Baker and Hamilton very interesting. I kind of felt like I was watching Jon Stewart when he crouches down and in his Bush voice says "we are not winning the war, but we are not losing either." How different from the rhetoric at the beginning of this debacle where the matra was "if you are not with us you are against us." Remember how French wine was poured into the gutters and french fries were renamed "freedom fries." Ah well. That said, I found both gentlemen to be very sincere and consider the members of the commission to be patriots. Let's hope something good comes of this.
Posted By Anonymous Charlotte D, Stockton CA : 10:33 AM ET
Since when do politicians know anything about winning a war?? Politics is Politics and War is War. This should have been a panel of Generals, and Admirals not only from America, but from other allies and countries effected in the region. Ones that not only understand logistics, but also culture and fighting styles. Vietnam was a mess because of congress, and so is Iraq. When generals say "We need more troops, and more equipment" all they get is more red tape and committies who study situations they know nothing about. And how much did this "study", resulting in common sense cost the American public?? Rummy did not listen to his men in the field, and neither are our politicians. Give them what they need and get out of the way!
Posted By Anonymous Renae, Appleton, WI : 11:38 AM ET
I was a bit disappointed in the talking points from Baker and Hamilton and the way the Iraq study group has been regarded. They've called themselves and been called a group "in equal parts Democrat and Republican" and singular in representing Dem and Rep points of view. But the problem of Iraq is a very real one of war and civil-war and sectarian violence - not one of red and blue. I would think it would require a cold, hard assesment of the solution centered on the problem - addressing the rampant sectarian unrest in Iraq - not a solution that gives the warm fuzzies in equal parts to our republican or democrat sensibilities.

Given the illustrious names of the members of the commission, I expected the output of this "study group" to be considered the studied view of a set of intellectual and policy giants - not the aggregate opinions of red and blue parties. We/Congress/White House need a policy rooted in intelligence and information to formulate a strategy to save the US and to save Iraq. I am disappointed that Baker, Hamilton and everyone else touts the recommendations coming from them first and foremost as a political meeting of minds rather than a strategic, informed opinion based on a dispassionate view of the problem.

Hopefully the latter is what it is, but the frequent touting of the study group as democrat and republican makes me uneasy about the quality of this study.
Posted By Anonymous Leena, Cambridge, MA : 11:58 AM ET
Send more troops??? Nathan seems to indicate he has been to Iraq to fight a war. I was in Iraq in 1990 -- under Bush's father. Then, there was an objective -- Get Saddam out of Kuwait -- which we did; and when we did it, the war was over.
Maybe Rangel's proposition should be implemented ... reinstate the draft. That way, all these 'war mongerers' will start thinking twice. I joined the Marine Corps because I felt it was the honorable thing to do to fight for this country; and I wanted to go to war, I got my wishes. How many of these 'right wing' 'talk a lot of sh*&' on the radio fools have ever been in the military.
It is easy to speak when you don't have to put your behind on the line. I saw men die in front of me, besides me..men that I went to boot camp with; men that I shared vodkas with, yet now they were dead...now their children were fatherless, their wives widows...
I am no pacifist whatsoever, but when you have 3 people who are essentially draft dodgers (cheney, bush, rumsfield) hollering for war... it should make you think twice..at least Bush Sr was a WWII veteran.
Posted By Anonymous Mo, Washington DC : 12:10 PM ET
Nestor -

Yes, you were in Iraq in 2003 and my father was in France and Germany in 1945. He could speak eloquently about the horrors of war. He was part of the contingent of American troops who liberated the concentration camps of Bergen Belsen and Dachau. What he saw was so unspeakable that he has only spoken about it on a very few occasions in all these years.

My father is appalled at what is going on in Iraq. He marched with General Patton as they fought to liberate France. He knows what war is like and what it means to make that sacrifice. But he also knows that you have to be sure that you are fighting a war for the right reasons and that you are fighting the right enemy. Iraq was never our enemy and never posed a real threat to this country. Sorry, Iraq and Saddam Hussein are not Al Qaeda, and all attempts by the Bush administrations to link the two have proved to be totally and completely groundless.

At the ripe old age of 91, I have my father still here to give me all of the wisdom he has learned through his efforts to defeat the Nazis in World War II and throughout his life. He has more courage and guts than anyone I know. He is outraged by the waste of young American lives in this most misguided of wars. He is not a "cut and run" man, he has proven his courage in war. But he knows when a war is just plain wrong and this is the case with Iraq. You can't get around that fact and you can't hide from it. We went in there to rid the country of weapons of mass destruction, only there were none. We went in there based on faulty and contrived intelligence that tried to link Iraq and bin Laden's Al Qaeda. Unfortunately, we now know that this was a bunch of lies, there never was any link between Iraq and 9/11. We are not creating a safer world, we have opened a pandora's box and given the terrorists a new base of power. I think this fiasco will haunt our country for years to come. The damage is almost beyond measure and comprehension. There is absolutely no excuse for prolonging this war and letting our brave soldiers die hideous and needless deaths. This war is bleeding our country economically and militarily and we have lost almost all of our credibility in the eyes of the rest of the world.

The truly courageous thing to do would be to find a way to expeditiously withdraw our troops and negotiate with the neighboring countries in the region. Misguided attempts to compare this with appeasement in the years leading up to World War II only serve to further obscure the reality of the situation. We withdrew from Vietnam and the world didn't come to an end. The tragedy is that it cost more than 50,000 American soldiers' lives. We must not repeat the failures of our past. We are in a quagmire that is far worse than Vietnam and from which it will be much harder to extricate ourselves. It is imperative that we act to end this insanity and implement the recommendations of the bipartisan report immediately.
Posted By Anonymous Mindy Chatsworth, Ca. : 1:17 PM ET
Hey Anderson,
You wanted to know what we thought of Dan Bartlett's comment about him thinking we are winning this war and here is what I think...

I want to know what this administration is smoking and what alternate universe it takes them to because I could us some of that for the holiday's....

You're so not going to print this but it was worth a try.
Posted By Anonymous Rachel, Albuquerque, NM : 1:24 PM ET
This administration seems to have no concept of time or reality. Even after the commission advised diplomacy with both Iran and Syria, President Hop Along Bush still wants concessions before talks. Didn't he get the picture election day. The American people are no longer interested in his ideas. The longer we wait, the more Americans and Iraqs die!But that didn't matter to this President three years ago, why now?
Posted By Anonymous Marlk Colegrove, Waretown, NJ : 1:41 PM ET
I agree with Mo from DC on this one. Im not saying that if you aren't a vet you dont have a say in the matter, but I can tell you that when you attempt to make suggestions like blowing away a whole household of people to kill one "insurgent" you either lack a consience, common sense, or both. The taking of a human life is something that should never be taken so lightly, even in a time of war. And the whole "you signed up for the military so if you have to go to war for years and get extended beyond your commitment too bad " argument is laughable. Oh and the earlier post asking why Anderson and company only post "negative" things about the war. Thats like saying why did japan only write negative things about the A-bomb, come on! This is the single biggest mistake this country has ever made, and you want to talk about the positives?!?!? I cant stop laughing!
Posted By Anonymous nathan, junction city ks : 3:02 PM ET
Mindy,

Well said.

Nestor,

I led troops in Iraq in 2003 and 2005. Yes, in 2003 we brought the fight to the enemy and defeated Saddam's regime. Although I believe that Iraq was no threat to us, we took down a cruel, tyrannical regime that tortured and killed it�s own citizens. We now fight an insurgency fueled by a variety of hidden allies and simultaneously find ourselves in the midst of a civil war. Believe me when I say brother, that this is a lost cause in every sense of the word. We have all the right intentions, all the money, and tens of thousands of troops, but there is no way to �win� this conflict in Iraq, and certainly not by the measures you suggest or the ones we used in 2003. I�ve seen a stretch of road under surveillance from snipers, cameras and guard towers become a death trap for soldiers because despite all that the enemy found a way to plant road side bombs. The name of the game now is solely survival, for anyone, US or Iraqi. It�s time to leave.
Posted By Anonymous Joe Natick, MA : 4:17 PM ET
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